Wednesday, May 31, 2023

In the “Our Father” the perfection of prayer is found.

If the world were able to live out the “Our Father,” the Kingdom of God would be in the world. But the world is unable to pray. It is unable to love.


Our Lord explained in depth the meaning of His prayer to the mystic Maria Valtorta on July 7, 1943.

In the “Our Father” the perfection of prayer is found […]. In saying it, you pray with all Paradise, during the first four petitions; then, leaving Heaven, which is the dwelling that awaits you, you return to the earth, remaining with your arms upraised towards Heaven to make entreaties for your earthly needs [in the last three petitions], and to ask for aid in the battle to be won in order to go back up above.


Our Father, who art in heaven.”

Only my love could tell you, “Say 'Our Father'.” By this expression I publicly invested you with the sublime title of sons and daughters of the Most High and brothers and sisters of mine. If someone [...] may doubt that he is a child of God, created in his image and likeness, on considering these words of mine, he can no longer doubt. The Word of God does not err and does not lie. And the Word tells you, “Say 'Our Father'.”


To have a father is something sweet and a powerful aid. In the material order, I wanted to have a father on earth to protect my existence as a baby, as a boy, and as a young man. By this I wanted to teach you [...] how great the moral figure of the father is. But to have a Father of absolute perfection, as the Father in Heaven is, is the sweetness of sweetnesses, the aid of aids. Look at this Father-God with holy fear, but let grateful love for the Giver of life in heaven and on earth always be stronger than fear.


Hallowed be thy Name.”

With the same movement as the seraphim and all the angelic choirs [...] repeat this exalting, grateful, and just praise to the Holy of Holies. Repeat it while thinking of Me − I, God, the Son of God, who, before you, pronounced it with supreme veneration and supreme love. Repeat it in joy and in sorrow, in light and in darkness, in peace and in war. Blessed are those children who have never doubted the Father and at every hour and in every event have been able to say to Him, “Blessed be thy Name!”


Thy kingdom come.”

This invocation ought to be the pulsation of the pendulum of your entire life, and everything should gravitate around this invocation of Goodness […]. Accentuate your lives, then, with numberless appeals for the advent of this Kingdom. But let them be living appeals − that is, to act in life by applying your sacrifice of every hour, for to act well means to sacrifice nature to this end.


Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

The Kingdom of Heaven will belong to whoever has done the Will of the Father […]. Here, too, you unite to all of Paradise, which does the Will of the Father. And if the inhabitants of the Kingdom do it, won't you do so to become, in turn, the inhabitants of Heaven? Oh, the joy that has been prepared for you by the Triune Love of God! How can you fail to work with a persevering will so as to conquer it?


Those doing the Will of the Father live in God […]. Those making the Father's Will their own, while annulling their will, know and savor − while on earth − the Peace which is the endowment of the blessed. Those doing the Will of the Father, while killing their perverse and perverted will, are no longer men: they are already spirits moved by love and living in love. You must, with good will, tear your will out of your heart and replace it with the Will of the Father.


After having provided for the petitions regarding the spirit, since you are poor, living amidst the needs of the flesh, ask Him who supplies food to the birds of the air and clothing for the lilies of the field for bread. 


Give us this day our daily bread.”

I said this day and I said bread. I never say anything useless. “This day. Ask the Father for help day by day. It is a measure of prudence, justice, and humility. 


Prudence: if you had everything at once, you would waste a great deal. You are eternal children and capricious, in addition […]. Furthermore, if you had everything, you would forget God.


Justice: Why should you have everything at once when I received help from the Father day by day? And would it not be unjust to think that it is well for God to give you everything together,[…] in the fear that God will not provide tomorrow? Distrust − you do not reflect on this − is a sin. God must not be distrusted. He loves you perfectly. He is the most perfect Father. To ask for everything at once affronts trust and offends the Father.


Humility: having to ask day by day refreshes in your mind the concept of your nothingness, of your condition as poor ones, and of the All and Wealth of God. 


Bread. I said “bread” because bread is the king of foods, the one indispensable for life. With one word and in that word I have enclosed − so that all of you would request them − all the needs of your stay on earth. But as the temperature of your spirituality varies, so does the extent of the word.


'Bread as foodfor those who have an embryonic spirituality, to such a degree that it is already a great deal if they are able to ask God for the food to fill their stomachs. There are some who do not ask for it and take it with violence […]. These are looked upon with wrath by the Father because they trample upon the precept from which the others come: “Love your God with all your heart; love your neighbor as yourself.'


'Bread as help’ in moral and material needs for those living not only for their stomachs, but who are able to live for thought as well, possessing a more highly-formed spirituality.


'Bread as religion; for those who, even more highly formed, place God before the satisfactions of sense and of human sentiment and are already capable of spreading their wings in the supernatural.


Bread as spirit, bread as sacrifice’ for those who, once the full age of the spirit is reached, are able to live in spirit and in truth, concerning themselves with the flesh only to the extent that is strictly necessary to continue to exist in mortal life, until it is time to go to God.


Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

There is no one, among the number of those created, except for my Mother, who has not had to seek the Father's forgiveness for more or less serious sins, according to each one's capacity to be a child of God. Ask the Father to erase you from the list of his debtors […]. But an essential condition to receive, to be forgiven, is to forgive. If you only seek mercy and do not grant it to your neighbor, you will not experience God's forgiveness. God does not like the hypocritical and the cruel, and whoever refuses to forgive his brother refuses the Father's forgiveness for himself.


Consider, moreover, that no matter how much you may have been wounded by your neighbor, the wounds you have inflicted upon God are infinitely more serious. Let this thought spur you to forgive everything, as I forgave through my Perfection and to teach you forgiveness.


Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

God does not lead you into temptation. God tempts you with gifts of Goodness alone, and to attract you to Himself. You, interpreting my words incorrectly, think they mean that God leads you into temptation to test you. No. The good Father who is in Heaven permits evil, but does not create it […]. But Evil exists. It existed from the moment Lucifer set himself up against God. It is up to you to make Evil a Good by overcoming it and by beseeching the Father for the strength to overcome it.


This is what you request in the last petition. That God may grant you enough strength to be able to withstand temptation. Without his aid temptation would bend you, for it is cunning and strong, and you are dull and weak. But the Father's Light illuminates you, and the Father's Power strengthens you, and the Father's Love protects you, so that Evil dies and you are left freed from it.


This is what you ask for in the “Our Father” which I have taught to you. 


Observe: no act is absent in the brevity of the formula. Faith, hope, charity, obedience, resignation, abandonment, entreaty, contrition, and mercy are present.


Therein everything is comprehended; everything, understood; everything which it is just to request and grant, requested. If the world were able to live out the “Our Father,” the Kingdom of God would be in the world. But the world is unable to pray. It is unable to love [...].


But I did not give and make this prayer for the world, which has preferred to be the kingdom of Satan. I have given and made this prayer for those whom the Father has given to Me because they are his, and I have made it so that they may be one with the Father and with Me, beginning in this life, so as to reach the fullness of union in the other.

From The Notebooks 1943, Maria Valtorta, July 7, pp. 150-154.


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Sunday, May 28, 2023

God Cannot Cease to Love You


Do we really believe that since God is love, He cannot cease to love us? 

The following paragraphs are taken from Meditations for Layfolk, a book by Father Bede Jarrett, that first appeared in 1915. Devotion to the Holy Ghost was a notable feature of Father Bede Jarrett’s spirituality. 

The Holy Ghost (Love)

God’s Love Personified

The Third Person of the Blessed Trinity is the most mysterious. About Him, we seem to hear the least and to understand the most vaguely. The work of Father and Son, their place in the economy of the divine plan, is simple and evident, at least in its main lines. However, of the Holy Spirit, it appears as though His precise purpose has not been sufficiently described to us. He is the equal of the Father and the Son, of the same nature, power, substance, and eternally existent with them, participating in the same divine life, and forming with them the ever-blessed Three-in-One. He represents to our human point of view that wonderful mystery, the personified love that proceeds from Father and from Son forever, and by this act completes the perfections of God.


We can conceive of no further addition to that being, save power, knowledge, and love. Yet we know also that He has His place, not only in the interrelation (if the word may be allowed) of the Godhead, but in the relationship (though this phrase is certainly inaccurate) that exists between God and us. Since God is one and indivisible, His love for us cannot be other than the love that He has for Himself. In Him, there can be no distinction at all. Therefore, we discover that He loves Himself and us in the love of the Holy Ghost.


We see His love to be nothing else than Himselfunchanging, undying, without shadow of alteration. Sin as we may, we cannot make God love us less. Though we be children of wrath, He cannot help but love us, for the gifts of God, especially the supreme gift of Himself, are without repentance.

God’s Love Eternal

God cannot cease to love me. That is the most startling fact that our doctrine reveals. Sinner or saint, He loves and cannot help Himself. Magdalen in her sin, Magdalen in her sainthood, was loved by God. The difference in her position made some difference also in the effect of that love on her, but the love was the same, since it was the Holy Spirit who is the Love of the Father and the Son. Whatever I do, I am loved. Then, if I sin, I am unworthy of love? Yes, but I am unworthy always. He cannot love me for what I am, since in that case I should compel His love and force His will by something external to Himself. 


In fact, really, if I consider, I should find that I was not loved by God because I was good, but that I was good because God loved me. My improvement does not cause God to love me, but is the effect of God loving  me. Consequently, even when I am punished by God, He cannot hate me. It is His very love itself that drives Him (out of the very nature of its perfection) to punish. So, Dante spoke truly when he imagined over the portals of Hell the inscription: To rear me was the work of Immortal Power and Love.”


Each of us is, therefore, sure that he is loved eternally and that God’s love can suffer no change from God’s side. How, then, is it that we grow evil, or lose the familiar intercourse that we once had with Him? It is because He has given us the terrible power of erecting, as it were, a shield between ourselves and His love. He loves forever the same, but it is we who, by our sins, have the power to shut off that love from effecting anything good in our souls.

God’s Unchanging Love

As I was deep in His love when I was a child, so also does He love me now.

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